Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Does "Living Together" Improve Later Marital Success?

A recent front page article in the Anchorage Daily News reported that more American couples are opting for living together than marriage. The article reported that many are choosing not to marry because of the high divorce rate all around them, hoping that a trial arrangement will lead to success.

The desire to work towards a lasting marriage is noble. But does it really work? Even noble deeds can misfire if based on bad information.

Social science continues to reveal the reasons for the tradition of lifelong marriage: it works. It doesn’t just sort of work, it works better than any other arrangement, and it works best for individuals, children and society.

On the other hand, as counterintuitive as it might seem, social science has demonstrated that couples living together before marriage suffer a 50 -100% higher divorce rate when they do marry. And it’s not just higher divorce rates that hurt: as a group those who live together are statistically less equalitarian, more violent, less successful in remarriage after divorce, more depressed, and less caring of children than their married peers, to name a few.

The reality is that while living together may be popular, it most often diminishes rather than enhances quality of life. For the sake of future happiness for millions, this misbegotten approach to relationship belongs in the dustbin of history along with other failed social experiments.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some Wisdom on Marriage from My Brothers

I led a session on marriage for men at our church’s men's retreat recently. Part of the session involved men sharing what they had learned in their married lives. There are some powerful lessons here.

Here are some of the items on my brothers’ list to of positive behaviors for husbands:

Break soul ties – the sexual revolution took many of us in with its lies and deceit. As a result we have soul connections to past lovers. We must break those “soul ties” by firmly renouncing them and repenting of those wrong connections.

Listen – we males tend to listen little and talk much. Often what our wives need is responsive, empathetic listening rather than our simple solutions.

Prayer – who has the time to pray daily with one’s wife? But if we will do it, we will find new deep new strength in our connection with God and with our wives.

Resolve anger quickly – “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” is good advice. We need to clear it out before the day ends. We must keep “short accounts” rather than unending lists of grievances.

Focus on the good – we men will do well to focus on the good things in our wives and concentrate on our areas of problems rather than the other way around.

Recognize our wives’ strengths and let them exercise them – marriage completes us, each half bringing strengths and weaknesses. If we will give our wives the encouragement to lead out where they are strong, we will together become stronger than the sum of our individual parts.

Look past the little things – there are many small issues that can trip us up. If we will “not sweat the small stuff” our marriages will be more peaceful and we can concentrate on the really important areas.

There are also some behaviors that we husbands must be certain to avoid as well:

Fixing problems – much of the time our wives don’t want us to fix their problems, they want us to really listen.

Quarreling – instead just wrap up your wife in a loving, non-sexual embrace and say “sorry.”

Manipulation – it’s easy to force behaviors through silence, withdrawal, emotional or physical intimidation. When the day comes that one’s wife wakes up to the realization that she has been manipulated, the marriage is in deep trouble.

Disloyalty – this comes even in seemingly unimportant behaviors like speaking ill or making jokes about one’s wife. When I hear a man do that, his stock falls like a stone in my book. But loyalty is also about keeping all of our affections for our wives.

Criticism – our wives tend to be much more sensitive than we men. What seems like a little criticism to us could be huge in their minds. We can easily crush our wives’ spirits. We must be very, very careful with criticism.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Sexual Revolution Disaster in Communist Russia

We have in the West experienced the sexual revolution for over 100 years. The change in our sexual mores has been so gradual as to make it more difficult to observe the effects. It is not obvious to most of us how badly we have been harmed by this revolution.

Joseph Stalin, Secretary-general of the 
Communist party of the Soviet Union ca. 1942
In Communist Russia, however, the Sexual Revolution came and went quickly because it was a disaster. The words of a former Russian sociology professor tell the story sucinctly:

During the first stage of the (Communist) Revolution, its leaders deliberately attempted to destroy marriage and the family. Free love was glorified by the official "glass of water" theory. If a person is thirsty, so went the Party line, it is immaterial what glass he uses when satisfying his thirst; it is equally unimportant how he satisfies his sex hunger.

The legal distinction between marriage and casual sexual intercourse was abolished. The Communist law spoke only of contracts between males and females for the satisfaction of their desires either for an indefinite or a definite period, a year, a month, a week, or even for a single night. One could marry and divorce as many times as desired. Husband or wife could obtain a divorce without the other being notified. It was not even necessary that marriage be registered. Bigamy and even polygamy were permissible under the new provisions.....Premarital relations were praised and extramarital relations were considered normal.

Within a few years, hordes of wild, homeless children became a menace to the Soviet Union. Millions of lives, especially of young girls, were wrecked; divorces skyrocketed, as did abortions. The hatreds and conflicts among polygamous and polyandrous mates rapidly mounted -- and so did psychoneuroses.

The results were so appalling that the government was forced to reverse its policy. The propaganda of the "glass of water" theory was declared to be counter-revolutionary, and its place was taken by official glorification of premarital chastity and of the sanctity of marriage...

Considering that the whole cycle occurred under a single regime, the experiment is highly informative. It clearly shows the destructive consequences of unlimited sexual freedom.

See also The Revolution That Shot America in the Foot

(Pirtrim Sorokin, The American Sex Revolution (Boston: Porter Sargent, 1956) 113-15 IN McQuilkin, J. Robertson, 1989, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics Tyndale House Publishers

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Using Tantrums to Extend Islamic Sharia Law

Militant Islam is finding a new way to impose sharia law in the West without the mess of having to militarily conquer lands in dar al-harb, the house of war. (That's us, the West).

When some egregious violation of sharia law is found somewhere in the world, militant Islam throws a tantrum, riots, burns flags, and kills a few innocents. Apologies are issued in the West, and people quit doing what they were doing.

Examples: the ridiculous Danish cartoon controversy, the Pope's comments about violence in the name of religion, and most recently the Danish People's Party's youth wing mocking the Prophet.

And people quit what they were doing. For example, four performances of a Mozart opera were cancelled in Berlin (one scene of which was tasteless) for fear of offending Muslims. The fear is not entirely unjustified. With burgeoning Muslim populations, murder or mayhem in the name of Al-lah is not impossible in the West, and especially in Europe.

While there must be clear-headed Muslims who deplore all this, where are they? Why aren't they forcefully opposing this? Does not silence suggest assent?

The Jihad is on again. After a few centuries of dormancy, it's back in business.